I’m on a mission: I want to showcase incredible destinations that you haven’t heard of just yet. Paris is cool, but have you been to Chania? These hidden gems often provide WAY better value for money and you have a much more intimate experience without the crowds. Why should you have to fight for a photo of the Mona Lisa on your holiday anyways?
Crete is the scenic, natural pearl of Greece. There are incredible gorges, snow-capped peaks, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Crete’s natural beauty is only equalled by its incredible history and culinary scene as well. There is nothing you can’t find on Greece’s largest island. There are Venetian fortresses, Turkish mosques, and churches from the Byzantine empire scattered around the island – all adding to the unique Cretan culture traditions found nowhere else on this planet.
When to Go
- July – August
- 25 – 30 C (77 – 86 F)
- September – October
- 12 – 24 C (53 – 75 F)
- Warning: Many things will be closed during this season!
- November – March
- 8 – 15 C (46 – 59 F)
Pronounced as ‘Hania,‘ is a vibrant city with a diverse history. Enjoy the Venetian Quarter with narrow lanes and hidden boutique shops on the east side of the city (east side). The Venetian Harbor is perfect for a summer stroll and the path is lined with restaurants and bars for you to enjoy all day long. You can enjoy unique Cretan cuisine (that is uniquely Cretan – not Greek) that was developed from Crete’s long and diverse history. The Old City is likely where you’ll spend the majority of your time as the west side is more residential.
Hot Tip: When you reach the harbor, turn right and explore the Tavernas about 5 minutes down the edge of the harbor. These are less touristy and you’ll experience better food with better prices!
With such a walkable town, you’ll want to be in the middle of the action so you can access all of the incredible restaurants and the Old City easily. I would absolutely recommend staying with Fileas Art Hotel.
The hotel is located in the center of the Old City so you can walk to the harbor in under 5 minutes and float between the Venetian Quarter and the tourist hubs. It’s also incredible value for money. For 60 – 80 Euros per night, you’ll be living in a spacious room or suite with breakfast included.
Fileas Art Hotel is good for:
- Families (and pets!)
- Those we want to be in the mix
The Fileas Art Hotel is part of a bigger collection of accommodation options called – Aria Hotels. Aria Hotels has years of experience and specializes in delivering authentic Greek hospitality during your stay in any of their hotels. They have multiple hotels in different locations across Greece (like Athens!) so be sure to check out their other options.
Tours & Activities
For my tour of Chania, I chose to go with Alma de Creta, which is run by two incredible locals, Aliki and Roussos. What started as a normal tour experience, turned into a transformative Cretan experience and dialogue through the streets of the Venetian Quarter and the Old Town.
Aliki and Roussos were incredibly friendly, hospitable, and accommodating; whatever type of Chania experience you’re looking for – they have the perfect agenda and local knowledge! We opted for a more well-rounded experience (with delicious nibbles along the way) and we ended up at their ‘kitchen extension‘ – aka a local restaurant they frequent – for two hours as we debated current events, culture, and dived into INCREDIBLE local food.
I’ve unofficially dubbed Roussos ‘Prince of Crete’ as he is a Cretan local and either knows or is related to 1/4 of the people on the island (mild exaggeration – but not by much!). We happened upon multiple siblings, friends, and even his mother; and this is testament to the incredible experience that Aliki and Roussos planned for us.
Things To Do
As always, I’ve put together this helpful Google Maps Layer that you can download onto your Google Maps app. Just click the farthest right corner to download. A few highlights (which are pinned below) include:
- Thalassino Ageri – Go for dinner when the sun is setting (around 7:30). The ambiance and food was one of the most incredible eating experiences of my life!
- Bougatsa Iordanis – This is the infamous, flakey Cretan breakfast pastry that has chaniot myzithra cheese in the center. A Greek coffee & pastry will run you about 5 Euros. What a steal! (pictured above)
- Kousina LTD – This is Aliki and Roussos’s ‘kitchen extension’ (mentioned above). It has a warm family friendly feel to it and cannot be missed. Come hungry as the portions are large. You can also ask for half portions so you can sample a bit of everything.